Our Day at Volcano Bay (Universal Orlando)
Volcano Bay opened in 2017. We live in South Florida and for months had heard about the opening and were hoping that we would have an opportunity to go. I was fortunate to win a pair of tickets from a local radio station for a 1 day visit.
Since I was going to take my kids with me, all I had to do was buy 2 child tickets. What surprised me when buying the tickets for my kids was that a child ticket was only a few dollars less than an adult ticket. Also, since we are Florida residents, we usually are entitled to a Florida resident discount. But the discount did not apply for the date we were going.
The tickets that I won also included a parking pass for the day. It may not sound like much, but every dollar saved helps. We had heard that when Volcano Bay reaches its capacity, they do not let anyone else in. We wanted to make sure that we made it in on the day we planned to visit. So we arrived at the parking garage early.
Volcano Bay is one of the Universal parks; however it is not easily accessible once you park your car in the garage. Once you park, you have to catch a shuttle bus that will take you over to Volcano Bay. It’s not a far ride, maybe 10 minutes, 15 at most. However, if you are staying at the Cabana Bay resort, you can easily walk to Volcano Bay.
We arrived at Volcano Bay and I headed over to Guest Services so that I can convert my winning tickets to real tickets for the day. There was no wait on the line and they were able to process the tickets quickly. It was still about 30 minutes before the park opened so we did have to wait on-line for entry.
When we walked through the gates, we were each given a Tapu Tapu; our guide for the day. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, but it didn’t take long for us to figure it out. We made it in as soon as the park opened and I headed straight for the first set of lockers that I saw. I was planning on renting a locker for the day to store all of our stuff. We made trips back and forth when we needed to reapply sunscreen.
The Volcano is the main attraction and is visible from every angle in the park. We came across a selfie station. You can actually use your Tapu Tapu to activate the camera.
We started walking around, not really sure what we were going to do, when we came across a slide that said there was no wait. We measured the kids and saw that they were tall enough to ride. In order to get on-line, you have to tap your Tapu Tapu to reserve your place. We then walked to the entry and scanned our Tapu Tapu and made our way to the top of the slide. We reached the top and about to ride the Maku Puihi Raft Ride. The attendant asked how many were riding, we said 4 and she asked us to step into a square. The square is really a scale. There is a weight limit, thankfully we weren’t over the limit and were able to ride. The slide was calm but fun.
After Maku Puihi, we walked around not really sure where we were heading. We came to the wave pool, Waturi Beach, and spent some time in there. Immediately next to the wave pool is another pool, The Reef. It wasn’t as crowded so we decided to spend some time in there. What was really cool about this area was there were points where you can tap your Tapu Tapu and it will activate a spout of water. Really cool and fun to see how an unsuspecting vacationers reacts.
While my husband and daughter stayed in the pool, my son and I decided that we would go reserve our next ride. We headed over to Krakatau Aqua Coaster. There was a 90 minute wait so we reserved our place in line then headed back to The Reef. We decided that it might be fun to spend some time in the lazy river, so we headed off in search of it.
We came across TeAwa, the Fearless River. We were told this was the more aggressive of the 2 lazy rivers at Volcano Bay. Everyone is required to have a tube if you are going to go into the river. This attraction was so much fun. It is definitely not lazy, but it was so much fun. We easily spent over an hour in the river and could have stayed all day.
After TeAwa, we were hungry so we decided to head over to get something to eat. Not really sure where to go, I know we passed a restaurant by the lockers. We headed in that direction and made it to Kohola Reef Restaurant. As we were waiting in line to order food, my son’s and my Tapu Tapu vibrated letting us know that our time for Krakatau was here. The great thing about Tapu Tapu is that we didn’t have to leave what we were doing to get to our place in line. We could go whenever we were ready. You just can’t reserve another ride before you go on the last one you reserved. We stayed in line and ordered burgers and fries for everyone. We also got the refillable souvenir cups. I spent more on food that I did for admission for my kids. Lunch was good, not great, just good. We headed to the lockers after we ate, stored the cups and applied sunscreen.
My son and I headed for Krakatau while my husband and daughter went back to The Reef. We scanned our Tapu Tapu at Krakatau and waited about 10 minutes before we were on the ride. I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think I was mostly surprised at how long the ride itself was. It didn’t just go up and one big drop, no. This ride went around the volcano, a bunch of twists and turns and was really fun. I liked it a lot and was happy that we were able to go on it.
When the ride was over we headed to The Reef to pick up my husband and daughter and we decided that we wanted to try the calmer lazy river, Kopiko Wai Winding River. This river was a lot tamer than TeAwa. It was peaceful, I loved the waterfalls, and there was even a part where you go underground and when you look up, the lights are different colors. We stayed in this river for the rest of our time at the park.
We didn’t get to ride on all the slides, but we didn’t want to. We had decided before we went that we would do everything that we could. We got to go on a few of the attractions, but we had the best time in the together in the lazy rivers.
I have to admit, I felt a bit spoiled after going to Volcano Bay. If you are going on one of the attractions with a raft or tube, you don’t have to carry it as you walk all the way to the top. They have a return machine that once you finish with the ride, the lifeguard puts the raft on the conveyor belt and it takes it to the top for you. Also, you are at your leisure to do whatever you want. You can reserve a ride that may take 90-120 minutes to ride, but you don’t have to wait on-line or rush to it as soon as it’s time. You are free to do whatever you want while you wait.
We went to Legoland’s waterpark a few days after going to Volcano Bay and I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy it as much. When I saw the long lines for the slides, I was turned off. I saw people standing in line carrying a tube, it reconfirmed that i didn't want to wait on line carrying a tube.
I would absolutely recommend Universal’s Volcano Bay. I am looking forward to going back again this year. You are probably not going to be able to ride every ride in one day. The most popular attraction is Ko’okiri, the body plunge slide in the volcano. On the day that I was there, the wait time for this ride was never less than 3 hours. If that’s the case, do be upset about it, enjoy what you get to do and have a great time. It’s so much fun.
Shuttle Bus at parking garage
© 2018 Maria Santana